Circling back to Vancouver

Day 4, Rathtrevor Campground to Nanaimo & Vancouver, 35 miles

Weather and time have brought me to a decision: head back to Vancouver and then catch the train down to Portland. My original itinerary was to cycling down to Victoria, then ferry over to Port Angeles and the Olympic Peninsula. But the chill and rain have dampened my spirits and sapped my strength. There’s a ferry back to Vancouver just a fifteen miles away from my camp in Nanaimo. I’ll return another time to cycling the beautiful islands, in a warmer season.

My tent is damp when I strike camp, but rains hold off as I ride south along 19A towards Nanaimo. The rolling costal highway has become a busy avenue passing through endless urban strip malls. A stop for Serious Coffee proves refreshing, especially the “Montreal” sandwich, corned beef on a pretzel roll. The terrain is mostly flat now. a welcome change from the hilly coast of the previous days. The light headwind doesn’t phase me. I’m excited to reach another ferry.

Largest ship yet! With five decks, foot passengers entering on a top level gangway. Inside the full cafeteria has a long line. The crossing is also 90 minutes, same as the Powell River ferry. I walk out on the windy sundeck, skies overcast and waters equally grey. How different the mood when watery surroundings are sunny and blue. I’m resigned to allow myself this grumbling. I’m again questioning my tour, my health, my direction, my life in total. And also strangely peaceful with the inquiry. Not judging myself, as I might have before. Instead gently observing, considering, allowing the place and condition in which I find myself. Awakening to this moment.

The ferry arrives at Horseshoe Bay and I ride out, climbing up to the 500 foot freeway summit which overlooks West Vancouver.  A long slow climb, then rapid descent. I cut through neighborhoods back to Marine Drive, then steadily east, back to the Lions Gate Bridge. Traffic at the onramp is clogged and crawling, but I easily slip by on the bicycle lane, then head up an over the suspension bridge. I enjoy stunning of the passage, Stanley Park and the Vancouver seawall. Then I’m descending rapidly along the bike path, parallel to four lanes of rush hour traffic jam. Into downtown Vancouver, following Google navigation.

I find my way to the Gaslamp district and my hostel. I’m catching a 530am Amtrak bus connector, so I head to my room for the night. Unfortunately this is a party dorm, alcohol freely flowing in the kitchen, and even more in the bar directly below. The other hostel guests aren’t too loud, but the night DJ in the bar below is throbbing through the floor and my earplugs. Note to self: stay in HI hostels, which are dry, a much better chance of sleeping!

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